Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
RDP is a Microsoft-designed technology that allows two computers to share a GUI using a network connection.
RDP is a proprietary technology initially built by Microsoft that allows two computers to exchange a graphical user interface (GUI) using a standardized network connection. This article explains the meaning of RDP, how it works, its benefits, and the challenges to consider.
What Is Remote Desktop Protocol?
Remote work has existed for quite a while but has recently been brought to the limelight. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how much employees could complete from the comfort of their homes. But it also showed the limitations of remote work and its risk for the business. One of those limitations and risks is the need to duplicate the office environment at home, including sensitive files, documents, subscribed applications, etc.
An employee that works with sensitive information might be limited from working remotely even when there is little alternative. This is where the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) comes into the scene.
Remote Desktop Protocol is a safe protocol for communication between computer networks. It is an exclusive protocol built by Microsoft that furnishes the user on one desktop with a graphical user interface that they can use to connect with another computer over a network connection directly. For this to work, the user must have the RDP software installed on his computer from which he accesses the other computer running the RDP server.
The Remote Desktop Protocol connection is a tool that allows users to connect to another windows or PC in another location over the internet. The user located far away will be able to log in to the home PC, view the desktop and access the files stored in it, and use the peripheral devices like the mouse and keyboard to control the office PC, just as though they were in front of it.
The Remote Desktop Protocol is not just a tool for remote workers to access their office desktops; it is also invaluable to network admins as they can diagnose and fix non-structural system malfunction without being physically present. Remote employees, those in transit, at a conference, support technicians, and network administrators can use RDP for regular maintenance.
Microsoft developed RDP, but it can link different types of computers. The client that is the PC, the user is logged into can run on multiple operating systems like Windows, macOS, Unix, and Android. At the same time, the server is built for specific operating systems, majorly Windows.
How Does Remote Desktop Protocol Work?
The working principle of the RDP is quite simple and uncomplicated. Like other Remote Desktop software, RDP gives you remote control over another system. However, RDP is the most common protocol used for this purpose.
How does RDP work?
Anything you will control remotely, be it an object or, in this case, a computer system, must be able to receive some signal. Take, for instance, drones. For a drone to move in a direction or change course, it must receive radio signals from the drone controller in the hands of the pilot. Remote Desktop Protocol works by a similar yet different mechanism, but first, we must understand what the client and server represent in the RDP network.
- Server: The server, otherwise known as the host, is the computer you want to connect to and is accessible from any location. It requires the RDP software to be installed on it.
- Client: The client is the remote computer operated by the user who has the authorization to connect to and control the host desktop remotely.
When using Remote Desktop Protocol, signals are sent over the internet rather than radio waves. These signals include input signals from the keyboard and mouse and output display signals from the server. RDP opens a particular channel through the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP or TCP/IP) and sends the information packets in an encrypted format to improve the network’s security. Currently, RDP uses the network port 3389 to transfer all data related to Remote Desktop access.
Before sending the information to the host, the transport driver is in charge of packaging the data. From there, Microsoft communications services direct it to the Remote Desktop ppl to COL prepared channel where the operating system encrypts it and is transmitted.
Encrypting and transmitting data to the host computer over the internet and receiving the desktop display at every point can cause delays in use. Therefore, RDP requires fast internet services to adequately handle the workload while creating a pleasant experience for the user.
When using Remote Desktop access, it is possible to add extra transport drivers for other network protocols depending on peripheral users’ demand to connect to the host computer. This level of independence in the TCP/zip stack improves the performance of RDP and makes it an extensible network.
Properties of the Remote Desktop Protocol
The working principle of RDP is reflected in its properties. These include smart card verification, ability to display on several screens, reduced bandwidth, 128-bit encryption for data sent from keyboard and mouse using the RC4 encryption, sending audio from the host to the client computer, sharing clips between computers, using local printers to print out documents from remote information, and so on.
With RDP, up to 64,000 different channels can be used to transmit data, and with the ability to reduce bandwidth, data transfer can still occur with sub-optimal network conditions. It is essential to know that some of these features are, however, only accessible in the enhanced sessions. With this unique set of properties, Remote Desktop Protocol has three primary use cases:
- They are used by individuals for remote desktops to their office PC when working from home, working part-time, or even their home PC when in transit or on holidays.
- It enables remote troubleshooting by a technician or a friend helping another person.
- Network admins can use RDP for remote administration ofIT infrastructure.
Benefits of Remote Desktop Protocol
Using the RDP protocol, one can gain the following benefits:
1. Makes device management easier
Managing a company’s or organization’s computer network is not a very easy job. It has challenges, and troubleshooting technical problems is just part of it. IT administrations must ensure that devices comply with company policy while remaining accessible to existing and potential new users or employees.
Sometimes, computers malfunction, either due to hardware or software failure. Other times remote users accessing the host server may unintentionally make settings that affect operation. If the server desktop is in a location that is not easily accessible, one can still fix technical issues from a remote location.
IT admins also have to ensure that installed software remains updated. With Remote Desktop Protocol, the job of the IT admin is considerably less challenging and not restricted to their presence in the office building. The admin can remotely control, make changes in the setting, control permission, limit access, etc., all in real-time.
2. Simplifies data access and management
One intriguing benefit of RDP is the ease at which data can be accessed and managed. Remote Desktop Protocol does not require complex instructions and procedures to access data from a computer system or database.
Users can do so from even a phone with just log-in details. The human mind is only so limited in the information it can store after it has left the work environment. Opportunities may then arise where it is necessary to recall some vital data. Remote Desktop Protocol makes this not only possible but easy.
The system can also manage data remotely, not limited to data access. Managers or human resources can monitor the information being entered into the database at leisure, ensure financial records are accurate and in sync with production or sales, and watch the working hours of workers covertly.
3. Supports remote working
In current times, it is not unheard of to find a company with more than 70% of its staff working from home. It was usually seen among software developers but now extends to all workers, like content creators, personal assistants, research assistants, marketers, product designers, and so on. Some workers may visit the office building weekly or on random days. RDP makes it easier for a company to have remote employees and maintain high excellence and efficiency.
4. Enforces maximum security
Remote Desktop Protocol caters to network security in several ways. With RDP, there is an addition of professionals in charge of maintaining the integrity of the server. This includes ensuring protection against the latest security threats. More so, there is constant data encryption for every information sent across the network.
This protects against hackers that may try to access vital data as it’s sent over the internet. With Remote Desktop Protocol, data loss is safeguarded against. Not just because of multiple screen sharing but also because one can easily recover files due to backup. Lastly, sensitive information containing financial records or confidential clients can be marked off and restricted from being viewed by just any remote employee.
5. Enables cost-savings
Another benefit of RDP is its cost-effectiveness. It saves money for any company and individual employing the technology. For devices that have Remote Desktop Protocol enabled, they can be easily repaired by technicians from afar. This alone reduces the maintenance cost of operating a device.
A company that invests in Remote Desktop Protocol can expect a healthy return on investment. Having more work done remotely and perhaps some full-time remote staff saves time and energy usually expended on transit. This maximizes productivity and increases the ROI of the company.
6. Works with multiple operating systems
One challenge encountered again and again with computer systems is operating systems compatibility. Many software programs are developed every day, yet the majority are selective on the type of device they can effectively run on. Remote Desktop Protocol may not be compatible with every operating system in the book, but it goes a long way. The RDP server previously was limited to a Windows-based system but now includes macOS. The clients can access the server from multiple servers, including Android and iOS mobile phones.
7. Increases productivity
Remote Desktop Protocol can go a long way to increase the productivity of any enterprise that uses the technology, from large multi corporations to small businesses and startups. The work environment is one of the primary factors that influence an employee’s productivity. Employees outfitted with the latest technological advancement and provisions like RDP will enjoy exploring such tools. Also, someone who is not confined to the four walls of an office or the three walls of a cubicle, as the case may be, is more creative and expressive in carrying out tasks.
Some ways RDP increases productivity include:
• Every team member uses the best operating system with high performance irrespective of the type of computer hardware they may have in the office.
• Field employees can have the same level of access to data, similar to their colleagues, and can also attribute information directly to the company’s database.
• Remote users can easily access company files stored on the server hardware without much expertise. This is in contrast to cloud storage which may prove challenging to navigate.
• Multiple applications on the host server are made available for peripheral users to improve their ability to work on projects.
• Employees can have a say in their working environment which ultimately improves job outlook, job satisfaction, and productivity.
Challenges of Remote Desktop Protocol
Remote Desktop Protocol is not without a few challenges. These include;
- The risk of downtime:RDP is a system that inadvertently puts most of its users at risk if there is disruption from a significant source. This means that downtimes can be abrupt when they occur, and the implication is far-reaching across every RDP client in their various locations.
- Multiple causes of interruption:Downtime could result from a break in consistency, system failure, or network services from the company providing the service. Downtime can be from the host computer; an event such as hardware theft or destruction can cause a backlash on other users.
- Network dependency:Similar to the above mentioned, the RDP framework will work similarly as long as all outsider PCs have solid and dependable web associations accessible to them. If not, the system is entirely out of reach. Further, remote employees can have latency issues if they have a slow internet connection.
- Bottlenecks:Depending on the host system’s power and how many are trying to access it simultaneously, blockages can be caused and reduce performance.
- The need for expert knowledge:The RDP manager must have complete information regarding the matter and be promptly contactable if and when any issues ought to happen during ordinary working hours. Without the vital assistance on reserve to go to in case of a framework blackout, the outcomes could be critical.
- Increased security vulnerabilities:Remote access is a double-edged sword regarding system security. Although it comes with data encryption, access controls, and activity logging, it introduces additional security vulnerabilities that could be used as attack points. Security vulnerabilities, such as susceptibility to hash attacks and computer worms, are not ideal for sustained use over time.
You’ll notice that, for instance, it’s challenging to keep tabs on everyone accessing your system remotely. You can’t physically authenticate all the users. That makes it easy for attackers to infiltrate the system using genuine accounts and then leave unnoticed. In other cases, users leverage compromised VPN services, which hackers then manage to take advantage of to gain unauthorized access.
Despite these challenges, RDP can be useful for administering remote work management and access, especially for companies using an on-premise IT infrastructure.
Remote desktop protocol has become the standard for sharing desktops and other GUI interfaces over networked Microsoft systems. However, enterprises should keep in mind that heavy bandwidth utilization may impact performance. Besides bandwidth strain and security risks, remote desktop protocol or RDP has a few cons. This makes it a compelling solution in the era of remote and hybrid working.